This is the beginning of my story: writer’s block. This is also the end. If you must have it, here’s the middle:
Thursday. I sit down at my computer, push up mental sleeves, crack mental knuckles, and poise fingers over the keyboard, ready to commence composing. I type this week’s provided topic, “Beginning and end,” and wait for inspiration. Nothing. Minutes pass. More nothing. Nothing, that is, except the sounds of fighting from the playroom. “Give it back!” “Stop pulling my hair!” “Waahhhhhhh!” Sigh. Productive writing session terminated.
But it’s a beautiful day, the first in simply ages. The sunshine re-awakens my creativity: “Today the whole world looks different. Grass shouts green. Sky sings blue. Frilly daffodils nod at opening tulip buds. Robin pulls a worm. We stuff our detested coats toward the back of the closet like so many skeletons and go lightly outside to welcome warmth with pale arms.”
Just like yours, my inner editor is screaming, “Hackneyed topic! Can you say ‘Cliché?’” It definitely needs a twist. “But beginnings are always endings. The birth of one era is the demise of another. In every change, let us remember our unchanging Father. Let us trust the circle of His arms in seasons of suffering and of joy.”
As I re-read, I imagine the somber voice of a priest echoing in a half-empty cathedral. “Let osssss remembah ow-ah unchanging. . .” Cut.
Take 3. Saturday is my husband’s birthday. My every attempt to celebrate flops. I write, “If you are looking for step-by-step directions for how to help your husband have a terrible birthday, look no further. I will personally lead you through the exercise with easy-to-follow directions. Rest assured that these techniques have been tested and are guaranteed to be 95% exaggeration-free.
1. Set your alarm for an early hour, then keep hitting snooze. Make sure the kids get up early, too.
2. Don't make breakfast. For anyone.
3. Plan an event that you would enjoy and find a way to make it seem like it's all for his benefit. 4. Right before you leave, have a big fight.
5. Sulk in the car.
6. Don't allow the expedition to be successful. Stay just a bit too long so the kids start whining.
7. Do your best not to have several of the main ingredients of the type of cake he requested. This way you will have to frantically improvise, feeling stressed and grouchy the whole time.
8. Forget to write anything loving--let alone funny--in his birthday card. Better yet, forget to give him one. And don't even think about getting him a present, especially if he has asked for something specific.”
It’s just too awful. Trying to redeem the day, I make a special dinner which miraculously turns out to be edible, except for the strange-tasting cake. I promise my husband to buy him his coveted camping hatchet, either for cutting wood or for burying. He’s mollified. I’m relieved. Can I get an entry out of this after all? I try to work in a beginning/end angle: “In the beginning, God created birthdays. No, that can’t be right. Birthdays have got to be the result of the fall.” Hmmm. Writer’s block must be, too. I quit while I’m not too far behind.
Sunday is rainy. Besides church, there is a leaking roof, a dog that needs a bath, and some scraped knees. Plus the next day starts a busy week. Mild panic. I appeal to my husband. “The topic is ‘beginning and end.’ What can I write?” After a moment, he says, “I once knew a guy named Adam Ende. No kidding. Truth is stranger than fiction.” Except when you have to create it.
On Monday I call my writer friend. “Help!” I wail. “What are you writing about?”
“It’s a surprise. You can read it when I’m pau,” she says, using the Hawaiian word for ‘done.’ So much for sympathy.
Wednesday evening after dinner finds me fruitlessly plying the computer once again. My husband walks by the office door and remarks to no one in particular, “Crying children, laundry to be folded. . .”
“. . .writer’s block,” I conclude with a growl. He takes the kids; I get the laundry. As I’m folding, it hits me: write about writer’s block! At least it’s a jumping-off place.
Which takes me back to where I started. This is the beginning of my story: writer’s block. Oh, and did I mention? It’s also the end.
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